Three weeks ago I walked nervously down a hallway to the same room with no windows where, four months earlier, I was told that the baby we had waited 14 long and painful months for no longer had a heartbeat. The same room that I had to call my husband from to tell him that my intuition had been right and our baby wasn’t growing anymore. “This is brutally familiar” was what I remember saying quietly and mostly to myself as I sat on the stretcher. Of course I had to explain to the technician what I meant. I appreciated her brief but warm response.
I had started spotting very lightly a couple of days earlier and in all 3 of our healthy pregnancies this had never happened once. Though spotting can be quite common I had only experienced it during my first 2 miscarriages. As a result, my still grieving mama heart quickly fell into defense mode. My guard went up and I started to lose hope very quickly. I could barely cry and I felt a little numb. Fear is a crippling thing. The night before the ultrasound I fell asleep completely drained, mentally and emotionally.
Having so recently lost our tiny son at almost 18 weeks, the news of this very immediate pregnancy (that we honestly weren’t hopeful would happen at all) combined with the grief I was still working my way through put me into a very cloudy state. I felt a strange mix of calm, shock and overwhelm. A similar emotional experience to when we found out we had lost River actually. It took 4-5 weeks for me to really wrap my heart and mind around the reality of this new little life growing inside me. I think my 9 week ultrasound that showed a beating heart was what first brought me into a place where I felt I could embrace the pregnancy a little more.
The tiny amount of spotting and also stronger cramping that began a week later though sent me straight back to square one, feeling protective of my heart and quickly trying to accept the fact that we might actually lose this baby as well. A baby we were beginning to feel could possibly be our 3rd rainbow baby. A promise of new life after the storm. I felt so disheartened and spent most of the evening praying for courage to believe that God’s plan for this baby might be different than I was preparing myself for. Collin came and prayed with me at one point later in the evening and I remember sensing his desire to hold onto hope being stronger than mine, so I really tried to do the same.
The following afternoon as I laid down on the stretcher I asked the technician to let me know, even if she wasn’t supposed to, when she saw the babies heart. Feeling unsure if she would or not I waited while the seconds ticked by far too slowly. Within a minute she turned the screen toward me and pointed to a small spot, a little beating, healthy heart. I couldn’t hold back the tears or my surprise. “What? Really?!” That’s what I remember saying. I realize now in writing this just how ready I was to hear the opposite news, that we had lost our very last baby. How sweet to be so wrong!
The technician spent a few minutes showing me all of the developmental details and we even watched as baby moved his/her tiny little arms and legs-such an incredible moment as my heart began to relax. Afterwards, I noticed that she was observing and taking extra measurements of other areas around the placenta/uterus. My concern then shifted from baby to myself and I had to wait until the next day to find out those results. Of course, knowing that our little one was still growing healthy and strong made the waiting a lot easier.
It turns out that my light spotting was caused by a mild complication called a subchorionic bleed, also called a subchorionic hematoma, which is basically blood clots that form between the placenta and the uterus. This condition affects about 1% of all pregnancies (1 in 100) so it’s fairly common and is usually only serious if the bleed is large. Mine is/was on the small side thankfully and my symptoms have already subsided. Usually these clots are absorbed on their own by 20 weeks and most women go on to have perfectly normal pregnancies.
As the final week of the 1st trimester wraps up, I feel so grateful to have reached this small milestone among many. First there was the 5.5 week and 9 week emotional milestones, when we experienced our first two losses. Then the next one is completing the first trimester and feeling those first few flutters. The most difficult milestone to make it to this time is at 17.5 weeks when I had to deliver River. At the time, it will only have been just over 5 months since that day.
There is an even greater sense of gratitude that I wake up with each day now. One more day to carry this sweet babe and experience the miracle that pregnancy is. I have no idea what the rest of this journey will look like but as my naturopath said when I first found out I was pregnant and my nervous system took over causing me to shake for almost a week straight- my heart will probably not feel fully at ease this time until I am holding our baby in my arms- and I think she’s right.
Thank you for caring so much about this baby and praying with us through this pregnancy.